Even with Captain America: Civil War taking movie theaters by storm, Marvel is keeping its eye on the future. It currently has movies scheduled through 2020, including but not limited to this fall's Doctor Strange, Black Panther (February 2018), and sequels for Thor, Ant-Man, and the Guardians of the Galaxy.
And that's all in addition to Marvel's first standalone Spider-Man movie (July 2017, produced in conjunction with Sony) and the two-part Avengers: Infinity War that's slated for 2018 and 2019.
But in a May 6 interview with Deadline, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige admitted that he is mulling the idea of adding even more standalone movies to the company's slate — particularly for Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow.
...the one [solo movie] creatively and emotionally that we are most committing to doing is Black Widow.
We think she’s an amazing character. We think Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of her is amazing. She’s a lead Avenger and has amazing stories in her own right to tell that we think would be fun to turn into a stand-alone franchise.
This quote, brief though it is, immediately gained notice, enthusiasm, and, as the Daily Dot noted, "a mixture of excitement and exasperation."
WAIT WHAT IS IT TRUE KEVIN FEIGE CONFIRMED A BLACK WIDOW MOVIE??? AM I DREAMING?? HAVE I DIED AND GONE TO HEAVEN?— soph!sharonat (@TH0RHEMSWORTH) May 6, 2016
IF THEY ARE ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT DOING A BLACK WIDOW FRANCHISE I AM GOING TO START CRYING AT MY DESK https://t.co/iTeeaZyuFV— molly shalgos (@molltovcocktail) May 6, 2016
Many fans have been salivating for more celebrated female superheroes within Marvel's cinematic universe, and Black Widow has always been one of the main contenders for her own film, given her prominence within Iron Man and Captain America's respective movies. (Though it's not as if Marvel merch reflects that prominence, often erasing Black Widow from the Avengers entirely.)
Johansson herself has been openly enthusiastic about the idea of Black Widow getting a solo vehicle. As she told Collider last year:
I think that there’s room for a standalone movie. The character has a really rich origin story and I’ve been really fortunate to kind of place all these layers on top of one another and kind of build up this character to this point where I think I can now start to peel them away and reveal different sides of her.
The actress even mocked the notable lack of a Black Widow film when she hosted Saturday Night Live last May, with a bubbly romantic comedy trailer that depicted the superhero as a clumsy but optimistic intern at a fashion magazine.
Johansson's Black Widow has been a constant presence in the Marvel universe since her debut in 2010's Iron Man 2, and the character has provided some of the most badass and vulnerable moments in the franchise.
Also: Black Widow is a bit of a different superhero from her Avengers bros, in that she doesn't have specific powers so much as incredible technique, learned through uniquely traumatic circumstances. Giving her an individual movie would likely be a deviation from the usual Marvel fare, maybe skewing less in the direction of high-octane superhero battles and more toward James Bond–style spy missions.
But before you get your hopes up, it's important to note that Marvel's slate is currently very full, and that this isn't the first time we've heard Feige throw out the possibility of a solo vehicle for Marvel's best assassin.
In February 2014, he said they were doing "development" for a Black Widow film. But in March 2014, he said both that "the idea" of a Black Widow film "would be great," and that her increased role in Captain America: Winter Soldier made it so that breaking her out into her own film might be too weird, since they wouldn't "get the quote unquote credit for it."
Notably, while most Marvel stars get locked into multi-film contracts, that does not seem to be the case with Johansson. She's described her contract as "mutating" from her initial one, allowing her to get more involved throughout the films. If she were to get her own movie, that would almost definitely mean another contract negotiation, in which case her salary requirements would almost certainly rise.
Still, the Deadline quote has raised more hopes than not, since Feige used the magic word "committing." Then again, Marvel "committed" to a Captain Marvel movie, too, and that movie's been pushed back so much that its current March 2019 release date feels more like a suggestion than a commitment.
TL;DR: A Black Widow movie would be great, but "creatively and emotionally" committing to it isn't nearly the same as actually committing.